Texas is widely regarded as a state that prioritizes protecting Second Amendment rights for its citizens. Its newest gun ownership law now makes it easier for more people to carry firearms legally in more places across the state.
Texas’s governor Greg Abbott hails the new law as a win for constitutional carry in the state. To understand if and how this new law might impact you, you can first learn what it is and what rights that it now affords to gun owners in Texas.
More About the New Permitless Carry Law in Texas
This permitless carry law in Texas took effect on September 1, 2021. It effectively allows most people in the state to carry firearms without first having to undergo any kind of gun safety training or application to own or carry a gun.
Permitless carry in Texas is also called constitutional or unlicensed carry and has not been without its critics. Opponents to the new law say that it will make the job of law enforcement officers across the state more difficult. They also say that it will increase accidents and deaths related to firearm use because the new law eliminates former legal requirements like:
- License to carry lessons
- Gun safety training
- Basic gun safety law education
- Conflict resolution
- Proper firearm storage
The new permitless carry law does not require people in Texas to demonstrate proper shooting proficiency or aim before buying and legally carrying firearms. Further, critics say that the law restricts the manner in which law enforcement can engage with gun carriers. It makes it challenging for law enforcement to determine if there is reasonable suspicion or a genuine call for service while interacting with gun carriers in the state.
Application of the New Texas Gun Law
The new permitless carry gun law in Texas applies to most citizens in the state. It now allows almost anyone who is 21 years of age and older in Texas to own and carry a gun without a permit.
However, there are still restrictions that prohibit some people from benefiting from this law. For example, it does exempt anyone who was already legally prohibited from owning and carrying a gun prior to September 1, 2021. These same individuals cannot own or carry firearms because of this new law.
Further, the new law does not apply to anyone who is prohibited by federal law from owning or carrying a gun. It also does not benefit individuals like:
- People younger than 21 years of age
- Fugitives from justice
- Anyone who has a qualifying mental illness or has been committed to a mental health facility
- Illegal aliens
- Dishonorably discharged military members
- Anyone who has renounced his or her U.S. citizenship
If you have been convicted of family or domestic violence, you also cannot own or carry a firearm under this new permitless carry law.
Where Can You Carry a Gun in Texas?
The new gun law also stipulates where you can legally carry a gun in Texas. By law, you can legally carry a gun without a permit anywhere firearms are welcomed. These places include most public arenas, as well as inside your own home and on your own property.
However, you can also legally carry a gun without a permit in Texas in places like:
- Your vehicle or watercraft
- Public college campuses
- Other people’s properties
- Amusement parks
- Public county and state hospitals
- National parks and refuges
By the same token, however, the new law makes it illegally to carry firearms in certain locations. Places where legal gun carry is off-limits in Texas include:
- Businesses that sell alcohol
- Public and private elementary, middle and high schools
- Private colleges and universities
- Mental health facilities
- Dog and horse race tracks
- Voting and polling places
- Courts and court offices
- Within 1000 feet of a Texas Department of Criminal Justice place of execution
- Secured areas inside of airports
- Federal facilities
- Postal offices
Areas that prohibit guns from being carried on or in them are typically marked for the public’s awareness.
How to Carry Firearms Legally in Texas
The permitless carry law puts restrictions on the manner in which you can legally carry a firearm in public. You cannot simply place your handgun in your pocket or purse, for example, and take it with you to the grocery store. You must abide by certain requirements if you want to avoid being arrested for and charged with violating the new law.
The law now states that you must carry a handgun in a holster if you want to carry it legally in Texas. The holster does not necessarily have to be one that fits on your belt or shoulder. You can now keep your handgun in a holster on your:
- Belly band
Likewise, you are legally allowed to carry a handgun in your vehicle or on your watercraft. However, your firearm cannot be in plain view. It must be holstered and kept in your glove or center console compartment, in a safe under your driver’s seat or in another safe place where it cannot be seen.
Alternatively, Texas law does not require that firearms like black powder pistols and most long firearms be holstered. You also do not need a permit to carry these weapons because Texas does not recognize them as firearms. You can legally open carry them in the state.
Texas lawmakers ushered in a new permitless carry law on September 1, 2021. This new law now makes it legal for most citizens aged 21 and older to carry handguns without a permit or prior training. You can benefit from this law accordingly by learning if, where and in what manner you can now legally own and carry a handgun with you in Texas.